Southern California attorney John Eastman recently appeared in court to resist efforts to take away his law license. The State Bar of California compiled a case to disbar Eastman due to his actions to push false allegations of voter fraud following the 2020 presidential election.
The pro-Trump attorney now faces 11 disciplinary charges in an ongoing trial taking place in downtown Los Angeles.
“Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen interviewed NPR Investigative Correspondent Tom Dreisbach about Eastman’s legal battle and how he originally became a Trump ally.
Dreisbach said the attorney was widely known in the conservative legal world. Eastman clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and was a member of the Federalist Society, as well as the dean of Chapman University Law School. He ran unsuccessful campaigns for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and for the position of California Attorney General.
He was also involved in the pro-Prop 8 movement in 2008, which supported the opposition to gay marriage at the time.
The NPR correspondent noted Eastman crafted a reputation for being a top legal mind, while also pushing fringe right-wing theories at times. He became involved with Donald Trump near the end of the 2020 presidential campaign by joining a group called the Election Integrity Working Group.
After the presidential election, Eastman joined more closely with Trump’s legal efforts to file claims in various states that there was enough fraud to overturn the outcome of the election and Joe Biden's victory.
“At the same time, he was also really the architect of a plan behind the scenes to both put pressure on then Vice President Mike Pence for him to either reject outright the Electoral College votes for Biden and seven key swing states, or to at least delay the counting of those electoral votes that then would happen in Congress on January 6th,” Dreisbach explained.
He said the State Bar of California presented allegations that John Eastman knowingly lied or included false information in court filings, or that he was at least willfully blind to the fact that some of these were outlandish fraud claims.
“The other prong of this is that the pressure campaign on Pence and this idea that the Vice President could unilaterally act to either reject or delay the counting of electoral college votes, but that was unconstitutional, and that John Eastman should have known better,” he added.
So far, the State Bar of California argued that Eastman knew the plan was unconstitutional, and he proceeded anyway, which is cause enough to discipline and disbar him, the group alleges.
As for Eastman’s defense case, Dreisbach said the testimony is still being presented, but that they plan to argue Eastman was zealously advocating for his client, then President Donald Trump, and that no attorney should be disciplined for pursuing the interests of his client.
The NPR reporter noted the trial may be more of a symbolic exercise for Eastman in the end.
“He is at a period of his life where presumably he does not need to practice law in court anymore. He could continue to offer his legal theories and academic and legal writing on the subject. But I just listened to an interview with him earlier today on a conservative podcast where he expressed a desire to have his day in court to continue to litigate the idea that the 2020 election was invalid in some way in his view," he said.
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